This information explains what to expect during your ketamine infusion treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s (MSK’s) Josie Robertson Surgery Center (JRSC).
About Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine is a medication used to help you manage neuropathic pain (nerve pain) during and after your cancer treatment.
Ketamine infusion slows down your pain sensing nerves, which send pain messages to your brain. This may reduce your pain level and makes you feel relaxed. The infusion may bring you pain relief over the next few days and weeks.
Your doctor may recommend you have ketamine infusion therapy if you:
- Have side effects from other pain medications.
- Don’t get enough relief from other pain medications.
- Have pain that is difficult to control.
Ketamine infusion therapy works quickly. You may start feeling better right away.
Each treatment session lasts 4 to 6 hours. You may want to bring a book, music, or someone to sit with you during your treatment to help pass the time during your session.
Most people get long-term pain relief (pain relief lasting at least 1 month) after 2 or 3 sessions. Once this pain relief happens, you may continue receiving therapy. Most people receive treatment once a month. Your doctor will discuss with you how often you should receive treatment.Back to top
Before Your Ketamine Infusion Treatment
After your treatment, you may feel drowsy and won’t be able to drive. You must have someone 18 years or older take you home, or your discharge may be delayed. You must make these arrangements before the day of your treatment. Your nurse will ask you for the name and phone number of the person who will be taking you home after your treatment.
If you don’t have someone, call one of the agencies below to arrange for transportation. They will send someone to take you home. However, there’s usually a charge for this service and you’ll need to provide transportation.
In New York:
- Partners in Care: 888-735-8913
- Prime Care: 212-944-0244
In New York or New Jersey:
- Caring People: 877-227-4649
The Day of Your Ketamine Infusion Treatment
- Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
- Eat a light meal (such as a small sandwich, eggs, toast, or soup) before your treatment.
- Take your pain medication and other medications as you normally do.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water. Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and soda.
- Arrive on time. Your treatment may have to be rescheduled if you arrive late.
- You will need to give your nurse the name and phone number of the person or car service that will be taking you home after your treatment. If you don’t have this information, your treatment may be rescheduled.
You won’t be able to drive for the rest of the day after your treatment. You must have someone drive you to and from your appointment. Your caregiver, or anyone coming with you to your appointment, can park at the garages near the JRSC.
The JRSC is located at:
1133 York Avenue
(between East 61st and East 62nd Streets)
New York, NY 10065
- If you’re coming from the northbound FDR Drive, you will need to go around the block to pull into the Josie Robertson driveway on York Ave, between East 62nd and East 61st Streets.
- If you’re coming from the southbound FDR Drive, drive down York Avenue and pull into the driveway of the JRSC.
There are several options for parking at the JRSC. There is a valet service at the JRSC entrance. If you use this service, the valet will park your car next door in the City Parking garage. The valet service is free, but you will need to pay the parking garage fee when you leave the JRSC. For more information about parking fees, call 212-980-6034.
If you choose not to use our valet service, there are nearby garages. You will have to pay to park in these garages.
When you arrive
- When you arrive for your appointment, you will be directed to the check-in area on the third floor.
- Check-in at the reception desk. Once you’re checked in, have a seat in the waiting area. A staff member will meet you and bring you to the treatment suite.
- A staff member is available on the thirdfloor to answer questions you may have while you wait.
During your treatment
Your nurse will talk with you about your treatment and answer your questions. They will also ask you questions about your pain level. Your nurse will use your responses to adjust the medication for your treatment. You can learn more about describing your pain by watching our video How to Describe Your Cancer Pain.
During your treatment, you will be lying on a bed with a pillow and blanket. Your nurse will help you get comfortable and will place an intravenous (IV) line into your arm. The IV line will be connected to a machine that will give you low doses of ketamine. This should make you feel relaxed. Your nurse will be monitoring your body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen throughout your treatment but may not be in your room the whole time. If you need anything while your nurse is out of your room, you can use the call bell to reach them.
Your treatment will take 4 to 6 hours.
You may feel nauseous and drowsy at the start of your treatment. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, tell your nurse. They will adjust your treatment to make you feel better.
When your session is finished, you will stay in the treatment suite for about 1 hour to recover from your treatment.Back to top
After Your Ketamine Infusion Treatment
- Your nurse will go over any discharge instructions you have to follow after your treatment.
- You will feel drowsy right after your treatment. You should spend the rest of your day resting.
- You may have other side effects. Your doctor will give you more information.
- Don’t sign any important documents or make any important decisions for 24 hours after your treatment. You may feel drowsy and not fully alert.
- Don’t drive for the rest of the day after your treatment.
- You can go back to doing your usual activities the day after your treatment.
- Continue taking your pain medication, unless your doctor or nurse tells you to stop.
- A nurse will call you 1 to 3 days after your treatment to see how you’re feeling.
Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:
- Any questions or concerns
If you have any of these side effects after your treatment, call our clinic at 212-639-6851. You can reach us Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
If it’s after 4:00 pm, during the weekend, or on a holiday, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the anesthesia pain person on call.